The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

 


The Hill: "Arnold Schwarzeneggar says his first season as host of NBC's 'Celebrity Apprentice' is also his last. In remarks Friday, the former California governor cited President Trump, who has repeatedly mocked the ratings of his reality TV replacement, as his reason. 'Even if asked [to do it again] I would decline,' Schwarzenegger told Empire magazine.... 'With Trump being involved in the show people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show. It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.'" -- CW 

New York Times: "Penguin Random House will publish coming books by former President Barack Obama and the former first lady Michelle Obama, the publishing company announced Tuesday night, concluding a heated auction among multiple publishers. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but publishing industry executives with knowledge of the bidding process said it probably stretched well into eight figures." -- CW ...

Guardian: A statement by the Academy of Motion Pictures said "that PwC – formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm that has been used by the Academy to handle the voting process for 83 years – had taken full responsibility for 'breaches of established protocols' that led to the error.... On Monday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that ... Brian Cullinan, one of two accountants whose job it was to hand out the winners’ envelopes..., had tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of [best female actor winner Emma] Stone holding her statuette. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted, handing Beatty the duplicate envelope." -- CW ...

... Actually, No, It Was Donald Trump's Fault. The Hill: "President Trump is calling Sunday’s Oscar ceremony 'sad,' saying the awards show was 'focused so hard on politics' it led to the epic mix-up over the best picture winner. 'I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,' Trump said Monday in an interview with Breitbart News." CW: Because everything is about Drumpf. 

Los Angeles Times: "In one of the most surprising upsets and shocking moments in Oscar history, the poetic coming-of-age drama 'Moonlight' took home the top prize for best picture at the 89th Academy Awards, beating out the heavily favored 'La La Land,' which was actually announced as the winner. The win for 'Moonlight' came in a chaotic and confused moment that played out live in front of an audience of millions, as presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway initially presented the evening’s final award to 'La La Land,' only to have one of the film’s producers announce that 'Moonlight' had, in fact, won." -- CW 

Here's the LA Times' "live coverage" page.

CW: It would have been way better for the world if the Electoral College had admitted, as a body, that "There's been a mistake." Unfortunately, actors & film producers have more integrity than electors.

The New York Times embeds the February 23 late-nite's show responses to the latest political news.

Washington Post: "A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky planets, scientists say. The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.... The newly discovered solar system resembles a scaled-down version of our own. The star at its center, an ultra-cool dwarf called TRAPPIST-1, is less than a tenth the size of our sun and about a quarter as warm. Its planets circle tightly around it; the closest takes just a day and a half to complete an orbit and the most distant takes about 20 days.... TRAPPIST-1 is so cool that all seven of the bodies are bathed in just the right amount of warmth to hold liquid water. And three of them receive the same amount of heat as Venus, Earth and Mars, putting them in 'the habitable zone,' that Goldilocks region where it's thought life can thrive." -- CW 

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Saturday
Nov292014

The Commentariat -- Nov. 30, 2014

The Case Against Poor People. Robert Pear of the New York Times: "In mounting the latest court challenge to the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans are focusing on a little-noticed provision of the law that offers financial assistance to low- and moderate-income people. Under this part of the law, insurance companies must reduce co-payments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for some people in health plans purchased through the new public insurance exchanges. The federal government reimburses insurers.... In their lawsuit, House Republicans say the Obama administration needed, but never received, an appropriation to make these payments to insurance companies. As a result, they contend, the spending violates the Constitution, which says, 'No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.'"

According to Brian Faler & Rachel Bade of Politico, here's what happened to that horrible tax deal Harry Reid "negotiated": "The immigration executive order soured the GOP on the tax cuts for the working poor and middle class sought by Democrats. Republicans worried undocumented immigrants targeted by the order would begin claiming the credits in droves. They found a friend in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who reluctantly agreed to drop his party's demands to extend expiring parts of the earned income tax credit and its companion, the child tax credit. The decision infuriated Reid's colleagues. 'Everyone felt that Reid had suddenly given the store to Republicans and not gotten much in return,' said a Democratic House aide. The president, with liberal Democratic backing on the Hill, issued the veto threat and the plan imploded, making the tax deal the first major collateral damage of the White House's immigration action."

Tina Nguyen of Mediate: According to the New York Times, "Over all, about 140 million people are expected to shop in stores or online this weekend. That is more people than voted in the midterms earlier this month." Nguyen calls this a "depressing statistic." CW: Evidently, it got too depressing for the New York Times, because as the story stands now, that second sentence is gone. Apprently the Times editors decided that pointing out that Americans are more interested in buying cheap teevees than in voting is not "fit to print."

Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call: "A senator who voted against keeping Harry Reid as the Democratic leader is getting a seat at the leadership table. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is taking on the role of policy development advisor at the Democratic Policy and Communications Center. He joins a leadership team that previously expanded in number with the addition of progressive heroine Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts."

CBS San Francisco: "Walmart employees, in the Bay Area and across the nation, are on strike this Black Friday in what may be the largest Black Friday strike ever. They are calling on the retail giant to raise pay to a minimum of $15 an hour and provide consistent full-time work."

God News

Tim Egan: "Considering that it took the Mormon Church more than a century to acknowledge what scholars have long known to be true, it may take another hundred years for the elders in Salt Lake City to proclaim that the prophet, seer, revelator and founder of their religion was the kind of guy who would have to register with the police today before moving into a neighborhood."

God convinces GOP staffer that suggesting the President's daughters look like bar-hopping sluts is "hurtful." Missy Ryan of the Washington Post: Criticizing Malia & Sasha Obama's appearance at the annual Turkey pardoning, "Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (Tenn.), wrote Friday in a Facebook posting addressed to Sasha, 13, and Malia, 16..., 'Rise to the occasion. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar,' Lauten wrote.... 'After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were.... I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.'" Thank you, God. See also remarks under yesterday's Non-Commentariat by P. D. Pepe & James S.

Beyond the Beltway

"Deep South Justice in Ferguson." Colbert King of the Washington Post: A white-on-black murder his grandmother told King about "gave meaning to the assertion of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in Dred Scott that the black man has 'no rights which the white man was bound to respect.' The slaying in Ferguson, Mo., of an unarmed, 18-year-old African American, Michael Brown, by a white cop, Darren Wilson, who in turn gets away with it, strikes a raw nerve. It reminds many of the way in which authority is exercised, especially in communities where the central relationship between blacks and whites is the police." ,,,

... Monica Davey, et al., of the New York Times: Competing witness accounts suggest that the public will never know what really happened in the last seconds of Michael Brown's life. ...

... AFP: "The Missouri police officer who killed an unarmed black teen sparking months of protests in the city of Ferguson will never return to policing, his lawyer said. Darren Wilson is currently in discussions with the Ferguson, Missouri police department on the terms and conditions of his departure, attorney Neil Bruntrager said this week." ...

     ... Update. Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Citing threats of violence, Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown Aug. 9, resigned from the Ferguson Police Department on Saturday. Wilson, 28, whom a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict in connection with the shooting, had worked for the city's police department for six years.... He said resigning was 'the hardest thing I've ever had to do.'" CW: Shooting at a teenager 12 times: piece of cake. ...

... Smoking Gun: "A police report detailing a fight last month between members of Michael Brown's family over the sale of commemorative t-shirts identifies the late teenager's mother as one of the 'attackers' who beat and robbed vendors selling the merchandise from a tent in a Ferguson, Missouri parking lot. A copy of the Ferguson Police Department report was provided yesterday by city attorney Stephanie Karr. When TSG requested the document two weeks ago, Karr noted that Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, was 'described in the report' and had 'specifically requested that the report be withheld from the media.'" ...

... CW: A couple of days ago. I linked a Smoking Gun report that after the announcement that Darren Wilson would not face charges, Brown's stepfather had repeatedly urged a crowd of protesters to "Burn this bitch down!" Assuming the reports are quasi-accurate, with parents like this, that poor kid had a tough row to hoe.

... Brendan James of TPM: "Red State editor Ben Howe  jumped on Twitter the day before Thanksgiving to share his take on a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The conservative editor's takeaway on Wednesday was brief but clear: He tweeted that, if he were in Wilson's position, he would have "shot Mike Brown right in his face.'" CW: These jerks really know how to set an appropriate tone, don't they? ...

... Digby: "What you're talking about are the rules of combat where a soldier in a war zone is charged with killing the enemy and the enemy is charged with killing him. It's kill or be killed. Policing in the streets of America is supposed to be different. Or it used to be anyway, with the police having a very strong obligation to de-escalate situations with unarmed citizens, not shoot them down in the street. 'Kill or be killed' is a very dangerous credo for the authorities to have in a so-called free society." ...

<... KTVI St. Louis: "Demonstrators boycotting Black Friday targeted several malls in the St. Louis area Friday afternoon. The movement was organized on social media...." ...

NBC 5 Seattle & AP: "Black Friday turned into a day of protests at malls across the country after a grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson earlier this week. Protesters in a St. Louis mall blocked shoppers and forced some stores to close. In Seattle, demonstrators forced Westlake Mall to close early on the busiest shopping day of the year and tried to disrupt the city's traditional tree lighting ceremony."

Best Holiday Headline. TPM: "Masturbating Passenger Causes Premature Landing For Virgin Flight."

See also Saturday's News Ledes.

Presidential Election

Ken Vogel of Politico: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry is inviting hundreds of prominent Republican donors and policy experts to a series of gatherings next month that are intended to rebuild his damaged national brand and lay the foundation for a potential 2016 presidential campaign...."

News Ledes

AP: "A representative for the family of an American couple cleared by a Qatari appeals court of wrongdoing in the death of their adopted daughter says they have been barred from leaving the Gulf nation."

Guardian: "Two people were killed in clashes between police and protesters after the former Egyptian dictator whose overthrow came to symbolise the promise of the Arab spring, Hosni Mubarak, was cleared of the murder of hundreds who called for his removal in 2011."

Saturday
Nov292014

No Commentariat Today

Sorry, my power has been out since late Wednesday night/early Thursday. At first I heard it would be restored in a couple of hours; then Saturday; then Sunday; now the story is maybe Monday.

The Internet connections were down in town, but obviously I found one that's up today. However, I've got stuff to do that precludes my working on Reality Chex.

I might try to do some postings tomorrow, but I'm not promising. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. No turkey for me. But hummus!

News Ledes

Your Holiday News Report.

KHOU Houston: "A reserve deputy constable with Harris County (Texas) Precinct 6 has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Kenneth Caplan was taken into custody Wednesday morning, authorities tell KHOU 11 News. Caplan is accused of shooting a 20-year-old woman who was driving on the 610 Loop at Stella Link about two weeks ago." ...

... WXIA Atlanta: A "man ... killed [a] dog while firing multiple gunshots into a Chevy Suburban that was loaded with children. Witnesses say the shooting began with road rage and ended up with the gunman following the SUV to a strip mall on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. 'About five minutes later, they pulled back through,' said one of the victims, who asked not to be identified. 'They just rolled right up; they pulled a gun out and started (shooting).'" ...

... Fox 13 Tampa: A Pinellas Park (Florida) man who "had run-ins with Pinellas Park police 34 times since 2012" shot himself dead during a domestic dispute after he threatened to kill one of the family dogs. "Police say he cocked the gun, lowered the hammer, and then for some reason turned the gun around toward his face right as it fired. Based on witness statements, investigators believe it was an accident. 'It's a shame. It's a damn shame. I never figured him to be irresponsible with a handgun,' next door neighbor Dallas Collins said." CW: seems Collins is an excellent judge of character. ...

... CNN: "The busiest shopping day of the year also saw a major boom for gun sales, with the federal background check system setting a record of more than 175,000 background checks Friday, according to the FBI. The staggering number of checks -- an average of almost three per second, nearly three times the daily average -- falls on the shoulders of 600 FBI and contract call center employees who will endure 17-hour workdays in an attempt to complete the background reviews in three business days, as required by law, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer said." CW: Merry Scary Christmas.

New York Daily News: "... Gov. Mario Cuomo [D-N.Y.] ... spent Thanksgiving at a Manhattan hospital with a serious heart condition. The 82-year-old Cuomo, the father of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was last seen in public at his son's re-election celebration the night of Nov. 4. He was hospitalized several days later."

Wednesday
Nov262014

A Shocking Executive Order 

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

 

Wednesday
Nov262014

The First Franksgiving

The Party of No, a/k/a the Party of Big Business, is seldom interested in helping business if it means going along with a Democratic President's plan.

From Wikipedia:

Abraham Lincoln's successors as president followed his example of annually declaring the final Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving.

But in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with this tradition. November had five Thursdays that year (instead of the more-common four), and Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving rather than the fifth one. Although many popular histories state otherwise, he made clear that his plan was to establish the holiday on the next-to-last Thursday in the month instead of the last one. With the country still in the midst of The Great Depression, Roosevelt thought an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell goods before Christmas. Increasing profits and spending during this period, Roosevelt hoped, would help bring the country out of the Depression.

At the time, advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate. Fred Lazarus, Jr., founder of the Federated Department Stores (later Macy's), is credited with convincing Roosevelt to push Thanksgiving to a week earlier to expand the shopping season, and within two years the change passed through Congress into law.

Republicans decried the change, calling it an affront to the memory of Lincoln. People began referring to November 30 as the 'Republican Thanksgiving' and November 23 as the 'Democratic Thanksgiving' or 'Franksgiving'. Regardless of the politics, many localities had made a tradition of celebrating on the last Thursday, and many football teams had a tradition of playing their final games of the season on Thanksgiving; with their schedules set well in advance, they could not change. Since a presidential declaration of Thanksgiving Day was not legally binding, Roosevelt's change was widely disregarded. Twenty-three states went along with Roosevelt's recommendation, 22 did not, and some, like Texas, could not decide and took both days as government holidays.

Footnotes omitted.